Sunday, 21 August 2011

Discovering Through a Child's Eyes

This summer I did something very different... I ran a day camp. One in July and one in August. The goal is to take young kids out into nature and teach them the ancient ways. The way our ancestors learned way back when. There were no formal schools, nothing with walls, just the great outdoors and an elder that possessed the wisdom and knowledge of nature, the ways to read your surroundings so you can hunt and gather better. So that you have an appreciation for your community as you all work together to accomplish tasks. And to gain your own self confidence, skills and esteem of who you are and where you fit into this world.

I was very excited to embark on this new adventure and one of my own mentors said something in my own teaching and learning, and that was to approach each person you are mentoring with new eyes. To participate in the wonder and the newness and the unknown found in the eyes of our young. This really stuck with me as I took the camp kids out on our daily excursions into the woods, to a local stream or pond. That it is in their own unknown that they will learn the most.  And to be honest, it is in this unknown that I learn the most too.

Sometimes we get caught up in the teacher role. That we must feed the answers to our students, filling them up with facts and information, in hopes that they will remember them. I know I have, and to be honest, has stopped me in teaching something because I didn't have the answers. Perhaps this is what stops other teachers, and parents. That we feel we must know the answer... but really, it couldn't be farther from the truth.

Have you ever watched a child try to catch a frog? Do you notice that they are first quick, jumping about, hollering and chasing it through the grass or pond, only to be eluded in the end. Disappointed they may give up... or do they?  I tried telling how to catch a frog... that you have to be slow, stalking, fox walking, and quiet. But I find they ignore what you are saying and continue their own method of capturing.

But if you get down on all fours with them, and try to catch frogs with them, moving slowly, stalking, fox walking and being quiet, they watch. When they see you wrap your hands around an unsuspecting frog and capture it, all their senses come alive. Hmmmm, so that is how you do it.

Many people say, when the student is ready, the teacher will appear, but I like to think that Rachel Carson said it best in the end of one her quotes:

"It is more important to pave the way for a child to want to know than to put him on a diet of facts that he is not ready to assimilate."

So true. And it is through this that I learn that I do not need to know all the answers. That through playing games and discovering together, that I can lead a child to their edge of comfort. That through that edge, that child will learn to focus their attention, to sit still, to work together among their peers, to be part of a community, to gain confidence in their own skills and their self esteem through it. It is through this discovering together in nature that allows each individual to do this on their own terms. I am just glad to be part of it and discover myself through the eyes of a child.

Video of the camp 2011

Monday, 13 June 2011


When we pulling into the driveway of The Boar and Chick (@TheBoarandChick), my daughter screamed "HORSES!!!" right in my ear. In my mind I noted to be sure to warn my daughter when we are going somewhere that has horses. It almost did permanent damage to my eardrum. LOL

Farmer Tania greeted us all as we started filing in. Farmer Mark would be joining us later as he was on his way back from the farmer's market, where he sells Black Walnut Lane and The Boar and Chick product at the Milton Farmer's Market. 

It was raining a bit, but that didn't stop us. The kids had a great time running up and down the patio path into the barn and watching the pigs run in and out of the barn. The pigs on this farm were not the pink ones we are most familiar with... they were black pigs, Berkshire Boars. They loved the rain, because you know what rain brings right? MUD! 

It didn't take much to get the kids interested in going inside the barn. All Tania had to say was there were piglets inside and the kids ran in. They were so cute, so tiny and black and white, staying all cozy and warm under the heat lamp.  Tania picked one up and it started to squeal. Once Tania held the pig from it's leg it stopped.  you would think that was cruel, but we quickly learned that it didn't hurt the pig at all and it actually kept everyone safe as a squealing pig can alert mama. And you don't want mama pig to get upset.

As Tania tucked the piglet under her arm, she asked if anyone would like to kiss a pig. Wouldn't you guess that one little girl shot her hand up and yelled "I WILL!" And she DID! ha ha, was comical. Don't people raise money to see this kind of thing... hmmmm, now there is a fundraising idea. OK OK, off topic off topic.

We then climbed the stairs to where the chickens are kept. I love chickens. When I was a child, I would sit for hours holding the chickens. The children got an opportunity to collect eggs, looking in the nesting boxes for eggs and placing them in the basket was great fun. Then they all got to hold a chicken. They loved it.

After everyone had the opportunity to hold a chicken, we all braved the rain and headed down to the creek that ran through the property. It was beautiful! We learned about their pond that held a variety of fish, a spot where deer laid down for the night and a big tree that the beavers were working on taking down. It was impressive to see the work they were doing to fell this large tree. And then we walked to where it's lodge was. We could see deer and beaver tracks in the mud. It was very cool.  

As we head on back, we got a real treat. Something I have never tried before and I can almost guarantee you have never tried either. If you have, I want to know about it. They were called Oinkers. A name given by a friend's daughter. It is chocolate covered bacon... yep, you read that right, chocolate covered bacon. Don't knock it till you have tried it. Well doesn't everything taste yummy dipped in chocolate?  If you ever get an opportunity to try it. Do, it is very yummy.

Thank you Tania and Mark for opening up your farm and showing us your little piece of paradise. See you at the next market.

Enjoy the slide show of our tour of The Boar and Ch


Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Walking in a Winter Wonderland

I have had a lot of people asking to go on a snowshoe hike and thought, what a great way of enjoying the outdoors and to try something new. Many who joined us on our snowshoe hike had never strapped on a pair of snowshoes before and some were thinking I was going to make them hike in these…

Not that I don’t like these kind of snowshoes, I think they give a different kind of experience, but for first time hikers in snowshoes, I wanted to make sure it was enjoyable. Don’t feel you have to go out and buy a pair of snowshoes; you can rent from Mountain Equipment Co-op until you DO decide you want a pair.

We didn’t start our hike till almost 10am. I didn’t take into consideration just how long strapping on 6 children’s snowshoes and helping 3 adults would take. But it was all good and everyone was excited to get started.

I picked Hilton Falls because it has wide trails, relatively easy and it has a big fire pit at the end where we could cook hotdogs, roast marshmallows and drink hot chocolate. Which we all enjoyed.

The trails were freshly covered in snow that morning and so I hoped I would have lots of animal tracks out to show everyone. But all we found on our hike were mice and squirrel tracks. Which the kids did find interesting, but they were just as happy to fun in their snowshoes, collect walking sticks and make new friends. Activities are always at the ready, but for the most part, I find children, and adults, just enjoy being outside.

Nature showed her power that day to all of us though. On our hike we had a few children with a diagnosis of ADHD. Not once would you know it. The consistent inconsistency of nature keeps them engaged, allows them to use of their energy and feel “normal”. Nature is a true medicinal cure that is completely natural and organic. One parent even approached me and expressed how happy she is her son is in his element outdoors and wants to start up her own hiking group out where she lives. It was a great moment for both of us.

So at the end of our trail, we gathered around the fire, cooked our hotdogs, ate our marshmallows and drank our hot chocolate. We even shared with other hikers and children there. We explored around the falls and found hidden tunnels and vistas. A great experience that everyone enjoyed and wants to do again.

Enjoy the video of our hike below and if you wish to join our page on Facebook and get information of future hikes, feel free to connect with her by clicking on the Facebook page.